Friday Recipe

Unless something breaks between now (10:23pm Mountain) and morning, Friday is looking like a desperately slow news day. Scanning GoogleNews, the big stories involve flammable Xbox power cords, Michael Jackson’s trial, an all-said-and-done political appointment of no great import, and Vioxx. All we need to round it out is something about Prince Charles and Little Miss Never-Be-Queen.


Drudge is running a bad picture of Bill Cosby, the InstaPundit has gone to bed with his book, and’s front page is running week old stories from Newsweek and Slate.


So before I scan my email for links, let’s talk food.

Almost Les Halles French Fries

Stole this one from Tony Bourdain, then adapted it slightly for the real world.

You’ll need:

2 large (and long) baking potatoes.
At least a couple quarts of vegetable oil (peanut oil if you can find/afford it).
Either a candy thermometer or a deep fryer.
Salt & pepper.

Roughly skin the potatoes and slice them into french fry size strips — about a half inch wide. If you’ve got a mandolin, you can do the slicing in less than a minute. I highly recommend this one. Put the proto fries in a bowl full of ice water for half an hour. Go read a magazine, have a beer, play with your dog, whatever.

Now, heat the oil in a deep, thick-bottomed pot to exactly 280F degrees. Or, just set the dial on this baby to 280 and wait for it to tell you it’s ready. Really, if you don’t already own a deep fryer, go get one. They’re well worth the money, and not just for french fries.

Rinse the proto-fries with cold water, and put them in the oil for 6 minutes. Bourdain says “6-8” minutes, and I did mine for 7. Either the thermostat on my fryer is off, or Tony’s commercial kitchen equipment works differently from the stuff you’re likely to have. Also, do the proto-fries in small batches, otherwise they’ll cool off the oil so much that, mostly, they’ll just soak up grease.


Shake off the excess oil and put the blanched fries on a cookie sheet. Let them rest for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, crank the oil up to exactly 375 degrees.

Is the oil ready and are the fries rested? Good. Put them back in the oil, again in small batches. You could probably have blanched them all in one go — if you jacked up the time a bit. But to do so in this final step would be silly, because you’ll ruin the fries. The oil has to be hot and stay hot to properly caramelize the potatoes. Figure each batch will take 1.5-2.5 minutes. (Bourdain says 2.5-3, but that’s not what I got out of my fryer. Again, I think commercial equipment varies from domestic stuff. Either that, or I blanched mine at too high a temp. Experiment for yourself.)

When done, dump them into a large bowl lined with paper towels, or a lint-free kitchen towel. Shake well, add the salt and pepper, and serve hot.

I know this recipe sounds like a lot of work just for fries, but there’s nothing difficult about it. Trust me when I say it’s worth the time. I served these fries with a mustard and horseradish marinated flank steak the other night, and Melissa and I never even thought once about getting the ketchup out of the pantry. They’re just that good.


NOTE: Do you keep your ketchup in the fridge? For Whomever’s sake, why?

Ketchup almost always goes on hot food. And putting cold sauce on hot fries is a crime against good eating. Keep the ketchup in the pantry. Not only is the stuff tomato-based, it’s also filled with perservatives. It ain’t gonna go bad before you finish the bottle.


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